With the Emperor‘s lessons still fresh in the Fool‘s mind, he continues on his journey, possibly going a little overboard with applying his lessons. Before he does something really inexcusable, though, he finds along the way the place of worship where the Hierophant does his work, and he learns the ways of religion and society.
Traditionally, the Hierophant is the archetype of the grandfather who knows what’s best for the family, who’s been and done all that they’re only starting to do, and knows how to be and do all that even better. He tends to be against going against the wave, leaning conservatively to structure and authority. “This is the way things were done, and should be done,” he says. “Everything else is either asking for trouble, or a waste of time.”
The Hierophant symbolizes ritual and routine, religious guidance and authority. He represents education in its formal sense, given that the first schools were started by churches. It denotes good sound advice, teaching and constructive counsel. It may imply marriage, partnerships and morality.
Since these days we now have more freedom of thought, there are now many varied depictions of the Hierophant according to what each group of tarot creators feel is “the right thing”, because that’s the gist of what this card means – looking to something higher to guide you. In the Osho Zen tarot deck, he is depicted as “No-thingness”, and the card is completely black. In the Vertigo Tarot, he is Dream/Morpheus – and those of us who are fans of the Sandman series know how controversial his opinions of “doing the right thing” are.
Traditionally, though, he is a pope, seated on a throne, with the adornments of the church surrounding him. He tends to look majestic and serene – none of the Emperor’s implicit aggression, because the Hierophant is so sure he is right that he does not see the point of violence. That’s sure to rub some of us the wrong way, but you can interpret it to your own version of “doing the right thing” all you want – the intended gist of this card is to inspire feelings of looking to something higher and aiming to emulate it in your daily, ordinary activities.
Interpretation in Various Areas of Life
Is there some rule-breaking or chaos going on? The Hierophant is here to remind you to put a stop to that. Flexibility and fluidity do have their pros, but too much of a good thing can also be bad – a happy medium between the two may be just what the situation needs.
If a couple has already dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s, so to speak, then maybe they have already begun considering the next step – specifically, marriage. Is it the right thing, or are they just being pressured by society to tie the knot? That is an important question that should be answered before moving forward.
It may be time to be more conservative about decisions right now, and to hold off on luxury before a solid strategy is being followed. True, the conservative depiction of the Hierophant is anything but modest, and you may be inspired to justify expenses that way as well, but you may do it in moderation – if appearances truly are important for you to get what you need, then do so, but otherwise, maybe it’s just your ego demanding shiny things?
Again, conservativeness is the theme here – be sparing with the luxuries, because cheat days are necessary to not lose your self-control completely, but don’t have five cheat days a week, or else what’s the point? If there is an illness that is particularly debilitating that the querent has to go through, it may be that the illness was designed to teach the querent a lesson, and may not go away until the querent has applied the life changes the illness was supposed to inspire.
Are you lost, disillusioned, and need to find your center? If the Hierophant shows up for this type of reading, it means you may need to welcome some guidance in your life. It’s possible you may be doing too much or are too “outside”, and need to remember yourself and where you’re going. Find time to be just by yourself, write what you want to do and be, and redirect yourself to take the path in that direction.